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Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The pandemic has wreaked financial havoc on universities across the country. But while Power 5 schools are finally getting financial relief from their lucrative football programs, Division I's "have-nots" are still drowning.

Driving the news: The University of California, Riverside, which competes in the Big West Conference but doesn't play football, is considering dropping all 15 sports to cut costs.

By the numbers: UC Riverside is the most subsidized D-I athletic department in the country, per USA Today, with more than 90% of its $23.2 million in annual revenue coming from institutional support ($18.7 million) and student fees ($2.3 million).

  • Revenues (2019): $18.7m in school support; $2.3m in student fees; $646k in rights/licensing; $151k in ticket sales; $816k in 'other" = $23.2 million
  • Expenses (2019): $7.7m on coaching/staff; $4.8m on scholarships; $92k on facilities/overhead; $11m on "other" = $24.2 million

The state of play: School officials project a loss of $32 million in state funds due to the pandemic. Eliminating sports expenses while redirecting school funds elsewhere could help alleviate some of that financial stress.

The other side: Athletic director Tamica Smith-Jones has proposed an alternative solution, ESPN's Myron Medcalf reports.

  • Her plan involves increasing student fees (currently $105 per student) and expanding the athletic department to include recreational programs.

What's next: UC Riverside is expected to make a decision before the end of the year and possibly as early as next month.

Data: NCAA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: D-I, D-II and D-III athletics exist in entirely different galaxies. But even within the top division, itself, there's a huge gap between the UCLA's and UC Riverside's of the world.

  • With football underway and basketball nearing its return, Power 5 schools are back to generating millions of dollars from TV deals (plus some ticket sales) despite many of their campuses looking like ghost towns.
  • Meanwhile, UC Riverside and other smaller D-I school that rely primarily on institutional support and student fees are scrambling.

The bottom line: The Division I divide was best illustrated in a recent Knight Commission study, in which college administrators showed an openness for radical restructuring.

  • 61% of Power 5 administrators said they'd support breaking away and creating a fourth division for Power 5 programs in all sports except basketball.
  • All other segments of Division I — Group of Five, FCS and non–football playing members — were categorically opposed to that plan.

Go deeper: Inside the world of college sports financing (Axios)

Go deeper

Jan 24, 2021 - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Updated 1 min ago - Sports

MLB headed for first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is headed for the first management lockout since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.